Who We Are

Posner Lab

Who We Are

Jonathan E. Posner, M.D.
Director, Posner Lab
Suzanne Crosby Murphy Associate Professor of Psychiatry at CUMC

Jonathan Posner, MD, received his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and his medical degree from the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center. Dr. Posner completed his training in clinical psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University (NYSPI/CU) and his child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). He is board certified in adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry and is an Associate Professor of Clinic Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.

After completing his clinical training, Dr. Posner began a research program investigating the neurobiology of psychiatric disorders affecting children. His research laboratory, by combining the use of brain imaging and clinical trials, aims to help in the development of novel and more effective treatments for childhood disorders. His laboratory has received funding from multiple sources, including the National Institutes of Health, the Edwin S. Webster Foundation, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, and the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation.

Jiook Cha, Ph.D.
Research Scientist

Based on biomedical engineering (BS, at Korea University, Korea) and basic neurobiology (MS, at Catholic University of Korea, Korea), during his PhD training (in neuroscience at the State University of New York at Stony Brook), Dr. Cha studied the neural underpinnings of anxiety, using complementary methodologies to disentangle complex relationships among brain, mind, and behavior. In 2013, after obtaining his PhD, Dr. Cha joined the Posner Lab to learn the phenomenology of psychiatric disorders affecting children and young adults (e.g., ADHD, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders). In 2016, Dr. Cha completed his postdoctoral training under the supervision of Dr. Jonathan Posner and a NIMH–funded T32 research fellowship in the Eating Disorders Program (directed by Drs. Evelyn Attia and B. Timothy Walsh). As an Assistant Professor of Neurobiology, Dr. Cha currently studies the neural and cognitive underpinnings of anxiety in anxious youth. His work attempts to develop ways to link brain circuits and cognition to behaviors, with the sensitivity and specificity to predict how the mind works in a single individual. He collaborates with visual cognitive neuroscientists (Dr. Lars Muckli at University of Glasgow) and computational neuroscientists (Drs. Klaas Stephan and Andreea Diaconescu at ETH Zurich). This line of study ultimately aims to determine how brain function begins to deviate from normal developmental trajectories. Dr. Cha’s research is currently funded by a NIH CTSA (Clinical and Translational Science Awards) Career Development Award (KL2) at Columbia University, a NARSAD Young Investigator Award, a Columbia University–University of Glasgow Research Exchange Fellowship, and a NYSPI Pilot MRI Award.

Elizabeth Raffanello, M.P.H.

Elizabeth Raffanello, MPH

Lab Manager

Elizabeth received her BA in clinical psychology and community health from Tufts University. She later received an MPH from Yale University in the social and behavioral sciences. She is currently a PhD candidate in clinical psychology at the University at Albany, SUNY. Blending her interests in neuropsychology and health psychology, Elizabeth’s dissertation is focusing on emotion regulation in individuals with multiple sclerosis. Elizabeth joined Dr. Posner’s lab in 2014 as a lab manager. She continues to help supervise psychological assessments while she completes her predoctoral internship in psychology.

David Semanek, B.A., HCISPP

David Semanek, BA, HCISPP

Research Technician

David received a BA in experimental psychology with a concentration in visual perception from Columbia University in 2005. He recently earned the HealthCare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner certification from (ISC)2. His main professional interests are MRI data acquisition and processing methods, as well as research data management and security. David came to NYSPI in 2008 and has worked on a diverse collection of MRI studies covering mood and attention disorders, autism, toxin exposure, infant and childhood development, and both prescription drugs and drugs of abuse. David’s long-term goals focus on the advancement of data-management techniques and data exchange for the field of MRI research, with an emphasis on maintaining high standards of information security and integrity.

Vanessa Bastidas

Vanessa Bastidas, BS

Research Assistant

Vanessa Bastidas graduated from Stanford University in 2014 with a BS in mechanical engineering, product design. She worked in various fields integrating engineering, design, and entrepreneurship, and now her goal is to pursue medicine. Vanessa joined Dr. Posner’s lab in the fall of 2016 as a research assistant and helps coordinate MRI research studies exploring the neurodevelopment of Puerto Rican infants and children, including understanding fear generalization in adolescents with anxiety. In the summer of 2017, Vanessa completed the Columbia University Premedical Baccalaureate Program and will be applying to medical school programs.

Susie Hong, B.S.

Susie Hong, BS

Research Assistant

Susie graduated from Binghamton University in 2015 with a BS in integrative neuroscience. Susie first joined NYSPI as a volunteer for Dr. Posner’s lab in 2014. Currently, Susie is responsible for coordinating Dr. Posner’s research studies, which primarily investigate the underlying neurobiological mechanisms of ADHD treatments. She is interested in studying and improving the diagnosis and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. She plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology.

Alex Choy

Alex Choy, BS

Data Analyst

Alex Choy, BS, is a data analyst with the Posner Lab. He graduated from the University of Rochester with a BS in biomedical engineering and is pursuing an MS in biomedical engineering at Columbia University. Alex's main interest is applying his engineering background in biomedical signal processing to further the Posner Lab's research efforts—leveraging his previous project and research experiences in signal processing, machine learning, and image analysis to help develop data-analysis schemes.

Yun Wang, PhD

Yun Wang, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Yun Wang, PhD, joined the Posner Lab as a postdoctoral research fellow after completing her PhD in electrical and computer engineering at Auburn University. Dr. Wang's undergraduate training was in electrical engineering at Central South University in China. Dr. Wang's research interests include multimodal imaging, resting fMRI data analysis, and machine learning.